True North Counseling Park Blog

Friday Waypoints – 10/19/18

What I’ve been Watching on TV-

I spent the week re-watching: Ken Burns: The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. This is such an inspiring documentary. It’s inspiring, not because of the beautiful scenery, but because of the brave and visionary people that made this park system possible.

There is an overlook at the Grand Canyon called Mather Point. It memorializes the first Director of the National Park Service, Stephen Mather. After his death in 1929, a bronze plaque was erected in every National Park that reads:

He laid the foundation of the National Park Service, defining and establishing the policies under which its areas shall be developed and conserved unimpaired for future generations. There will never come an end to the good that he has done.”

Lessons from My Clients-

I work with several kiddos that are being raised by their grandparents. These caregivers are in the trenches working with damaged children and it takes its toll on them. I think what they need from me, from us, it to be encouraged and told that they are making a difference. Sometimes a few words of encouragement are more effective than all the interventions that we can provide. This is a lesson I hope to apply in weeks and years to come.

Books I’m Reading-

“When We Go Camping” by Margriet Ruurs, Illustrated by Andrew Kiss

“Grand Canyon” by Jason Chin

I’m reading these excellent children’s books so that I can recommend to you some ways to spend time reading books to help introduce your children to the forest and to the most amazing place in this country, the Canyon. The first is for younger children and the second is for older.

Ruurs closes her book with a campfire invitation:

“It’s campfire time. When stars wink from up high and

Sparks fly into the night sky, orange flames dance away the darkness.

We snuggle closer and tell wonderful, scary tales.”

True North Counseling Hiking

Friday Waypoints – 10/12/18

Lessons from My Clients

Sometimes the lessons we learn feel negative. I learned this past week that I cannot help everyone. It is sobering. I want to help everyone, but of course, some people have been so injured, or neglected, or have been broken to the point that they are beyond my help. And the most difficult transaction comes when, after a year, you have to explain that to a client. People deserve honesty. As a therapist, “speaking the truth,” at times, means letting my client know that I cannot help them. Then, I become a guide to help them find someone that will.

A Book I’m Reading

I’ve been reading, “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder,” by Richard Louv. I will be providing a review next week, but I wanted to provide a statement or two now. Louv’s work provides a remedy for “super-connected” kids, and adults as well. “Unlike television (and I would add the Internet),” Louv writes, “nature does not steal time; it amplifies it. Nature offers healing for a child living in a hectic world.”

A Meditation App I’m Using – Insight Timer-

This app has been very helpful. I love the timer function. It begins and ends a session with a chime. You can have background sounds during the session. And there are a plethora of guided meditations. I’m still a novice but this app has been very helpful.

True North Weekly Waypoints

Friday Waypoints – 10/05/18


As I explained in a previous blog, Waypoints are significant events or moments from my past week that help me stay oriented as to where I am and where I’m going.

Lessons from My Clients: Let your Pain (Misery) Guide You

I was speaking with a foster parent this past week. She was very frustrated about the events of this past month. She and her husband were fostering a 15-year old boy who had been very challenging.

Listening to her, my heart went out to these foster parents, Tom and Jenny (not their real names). They love serving others and this love has motivated them to work with foster kids.

But in Jenny’s voice, I could hear her misery. She was in pain. I asked her if there were things that she was doing in the community that brought her joy and fulfillment. She responded that they were involved in a young couple’s class in their church and that this had been very fulfilling. I then responded that her pain and misery were indicators that “maybe, just maybe” fostering teenagers is not a good fit for her and her husband. I heard a sigh and then she said, “Mark, thank you for bringing this up. We’ve wondered about this but felt bad about considering getting out of fostering.”

I responded, “Jenny, let your pain, guide you. Maybe it’s telling you that fostering teenagers isn’t a good fit for you and Tom.”

The lesson I learned from these dear people is to let my pain and misery guide me. A professor of mine, while in graduate school, provided this guidance, “Never take away a person’s misery, it will serve as a motivation for change.”

Pain and misery are my change agents, and I will let them guide me to grow and to consider new adventures in years to come. Thank you Tom and Jenny.

Meaningful Moment: Hiking the Jeff Forest

There is a Gem in this city and it’s called, The Jefferson Memorial Forest. 6500 acres. Green. Hilly. Beautiful. Within that 6500 acres is a very beautiful place: The Horine Cemetery. I often take new hikers out there and hiked out there this past week. I encourage you to do the same as I recently reviewed Forest Therapy, and clearly hiking out to places like this was the kind of thing that Sarah Ivens was recommending. Study the history of this Cemetery and of the people that donated this land for our use and enjoyment. Very inspiring!

Book I’m Reading This week

“iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood” –Jean M. Twenge Ph.D.

If you have pre-teens or teenagers in your home or work with them, you’ll want to read this book. “Adolescence,” she writes, “is now an extension of childhood rather than the beginning of adulthood.” I’ll be giving a full book review soon, but an excellent recourse for parents.